Motivation Articles

Moderation in All Things

How to Avoid the Diet Blues


Sounds simple, right?

Like many things, it's not quite as easy as it sounds. Chances are…you want results quickly. And you probably know that your current routine is problematic in one or more ways—too much fast food, sugar, or fat and not enough physical activity. Your natural inclination is going to be making big, sweeping changes to your diet and activity level right away.

In short, everything in you is clamoring for a very anti-moderate approach. You’re primed to play the extreme diet game, even though your odds of winning are less than five percent.

Moderate Your Thinking
To rescue yourself from your own impatience (and the clutches of the diet industry that feeds on it), you need to moderate your thinking. Here are two core concepts that will help you do that:

Concept #1: Food is not the enemy. There are no "good" or "bad" foods. True, some foods offer you a better nutritional deal than others. Refined sugar, for example, provides calories for energy but no other nutrients, while fruit is sweet but also provides vitamins and fiber in a low-calorie package. But refined sugar isn't evil or bad—it can have a place in a healthy diet. It's important to know what you need nutritionally and where you can find it, so you can take charge of balancing your needs for pleasure, nutrition, and fuel.

The Payoff: When you stop labeling foods as good or bad, diet or non-diet, you won't feel guilty when you eat a food that isn't on your "approved" list. Instead you'll have more energy to learn about nutrition and improve your ability to make informed choices. And you won't have to give up your favorite treats if you find ways to work them into your meal plans so they don’t interfere with your health goals. Without the guilt and deprivation, you’ll be able to break the pattern of cravings, emotional swings, and binges that defeats so many diets. Without all those "diet" rules to follow, you’ll learn to trust your own instincts and make good judgments.

Concept #2: Progress—not perfection—is important. To be successful, you don't have to always make perfect decisions and have perfect days where things go exactly as you planned. If you eat more or exercise less than you wanted to one day, you can make up for it over the next several days if you want, or you can just chalk it up to experience and move on. Remind yourself that what happens on any one day is not going to make or break your whole effort. This is not a contest or a race, where every little misstep could mean the difference between winning and losing. It’s your life—and you’ll enjoy it a lot more when you can keep the daily ups and downs of your eating and exercise routine in perspective.
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • I have tried the 'moderation' rule, but honestly, it doesn't work for me. Take chocolate, or chips: if I stick to just a little portion, I feel worse than if I give them up altogether. I haven't eaten chocolate for weeks but it's not so dramatic. I could never go with just a spoonful of Nutella a day, it makes me crave for the whole jar, if I know I have one in my cupboard. So I simply delete them from my diet. Things are easier when it comes to different kinds of "food temptations", like my number one weakness, pizza: I stick to one pizza a week, no more than that. I can't get distracted by the 'it's just the last small portion I'm having' train of thought: one pizza is one pizza, not a bag of small pizza bits. - 12/2/2014 12:03:10 PM
  • I don't believe in 'all foods in moderation' because there are foods that are just plain horrible for your health.

    Refined sugar isn't evil or bad? WTH? Actually yes it is and the less of it you eat the healthier you will be.

    This journey isn't just about losing or maintaining weight for me. It's about being healthy and in order to be healthy things like soda pop and sugary candy can't be eaten moderately.

    Think about it this way. Smoking a moderate amount of cigarettes is better than smoking 2 packs a day but isn't it even better not to smoke any at all? - 11/17/2014 8:07:50 AM
  • I really really really liked this article about 'moderation vs elimination'.
    For me it is true that I cannot do 'moderation' and believe me, I have tried. I can eat veggies and fruit in moderation. But things like chocolate and ice cream: sorry no, cannot do it. By now I think I will be much better off cutting that 'food' out. - 10/9/2014 2:00:35 PM
  • great tips getting me back on the hike to good health and not weight loss is the answer . - 9/11/2014 10:09:46 AM
  • Great article! - 8/24/2014 9:45:29 AM
  • I have friends who go on "diets", then they talk about how tempted they are to have pie or cake or pizza or beer or whatever, so I tell them, go on, and have it, only dont eat the whole pie, dont eat the whole box of ice cream and dont drink the whole case of beer.
    the craving we think we are having for a food, is really only our minds trying to trick us.
    we just have to play along, and give into the craving, but keep in mind, once you have had a bite or two, or one beer, usually, for most people, you have satisified that need.
    its no different than a smoker who is using the patches or the ecigs to quit smoking.
    they are still getting what they need, until eventually they dont need it anymore.
    same with food, if you just have to have a candy bar, have one of the small ones and eat it in slow, small bites, trick your mind into thinking you have eaten the whole bar. - 7/22/2014 10:16:38 AM
  • about the same percentage of people who attempt to eat everything in moderation also will gain weight back. This proves that making a lifestyle change is difficult no matter what path you follow. - 3/13/2014 3:51:43 PM
  • Having lost 100 pounds, I'm more convinced than ever that this is true. Tonight I plan on going out for dinner for my husband's birthday and I may have a dessert. I haven't had one for a long time, and I'm going to enjoy it, and tomorrow when I wake up I will go right back to my regular habits. The all-or-nothing mindset just does not work for most people. - 3/11/2014 5:38:16 PM
  • It sounds great, but sugar and grain turn to glucose. I for one cannot eat sugar in moderation. I tried for 30 years. Only after eliminating grain and sugar have I controlled my binge eating.

    I may be an exception but effective weight control depends a great deal on learning what is right for your own body. - 2/5/2014 4:03:10 PM
  • I do not buy candy bars, I buy Herseys Kisses instead, for some reason I am better at managing that than a candy bar. I also do not buy 6-packs of yogurt. For me, buy a bar of candy, eat a bar of candy, no matter how small or big. The same problem with yogurt, buy a 6 pack,...: -( I spend more money the way do it, but I know these are my down falls, oddly I am not that fond of chocolate. - 12/25/2013 1:04:21 PM
  • On Friday and Saturday I have a problem on eating the right things. That's at night. Not alot but just to take the edge off. - 10/31/2013 7:45:30 PM
    i really liked this article. it is actually very difficult to give up favorite foods but yes we should try hard. - 10/16/2013 7:26:17 PM
  • For a sugar addict, it's next to impossible to eat a moderate amount of sugar. It's the equivalent of telling an alcoholic to stop after one drink. - 7/24/2013 7:00:53 AM
    I do agree with you on that. Moderation with everything is the key to a good diet plan. However, it sometimes takes a lot of self discipline to stop eating. I know this from experience. It is a good thing that Prescopodene helped me address this concern apart from boosting my metabolism. I'm so happy with the 15kgs I lost that I recommended this to my friend. :) - 6/21/2013 10:42:27 PM
  • FITNESS386
    Eating everything in moderation is definitely the downfall. Trigger foods will nonetheless trigger people to gain weight because most people will not know when to stop. - 6/4/2013 5:44:13 PM

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